Major urban extensions require large areas of land, often in use for agriculture. It is often the case that clients, landowners and tenants have competing interests and priorities related to the execution of the works, and a balanced and flexible approach is needed to find the path to successful delivery.
Archaeology and especially the potential for buried archaeology needs to be assessed in advance of all developments. Thorough evaluation and a careful, balanced interpretation of the results is paramount early in the project, so clients can include archaeological risk in their budget and programme. . Headland was appointed to evaluate an area in advance of a major urban extension and worked closely with the developer’s archaeological consultant to design and implement a scheme of trial trenching. This was required to target known archaeology detected by previous geophysical survey, as well as evaluate potentially blank areas.
The execution of the works was complicated by site conditions and land-use. The landowner required land to be available for grazing, and the progress of the evaluation was closely sequenced to allow fields to be fully grazed before the machines moved in. Reinstatement also had to be closely managed, in order to ensure the grass had time to recover and become available for grazing again.
As predicted by the geophysics, the archaeological remains were found to relate to several well-defined areas of activity. At the south-western end of the site, the work uncovered the remains of enclosures and land boundaries which lie on the outskirts of the Roman town of Durocornovium; evidence for burials and demolished buildings was discovered. In the centre of the site, a dense Iron Age settlement had a complex relationship with old stream channels related to the confluence of two rivers, and indicated seasonal occupation of the area prior to its abandonment around the time of the Roman conquest. Towards the east of the site, a series of small enclosures positioned along a river terrace indicated stock management activity, probably associated with the Iron Age settlement.
Headland has completed the reporting on the works and the relevant planning applications have now been lodged with Swindon Borough Council.
Ainscough Strategic Land
Environmental Design Partnership (EDP)
Trial Trench Evaluation